If you or your child wants to learn to fly, how successful they will be in reaching that goal may depend to a large extent on the private pilot license training they get at a local flight school. As with anything else, there are great schools, good schools and poor schools and you won’t find that evaluation on their web page or in their yellow pages ads. So you will have to learn to evaluate the school before you put down your money for training to become a pilot.
It might surprise you how many flight schools there are in your area. You can always use the yellow pages to start the search. But there is also an internet site dedicated strictly to helping you with this task. Http://www.flightschoollist.com/ has listings for every state and links to web sites where you can learn more about each school’s facilities.
The two clear cut qualifications that will tell if one school is better than another at teaching you to fly is their depth and knowledge of the airline industry and the technical field of study of aeronautics and how to fly an airplane and their depth and knowledge in the being able to teach others this skill. They may have wonderful pilots with hundreds of hours of flight time but if they don’t know how to teach, they won’t be much good to you. Similarly, they have wonderful teachers who can take you from ignorant to expert in the curriculum but if they don’t have any more than a surface knowledge of what it means to be a pilot, their credibility is questionable.
The flight school itself should be well equipped to provide the equipment to give you the education in how to be a pilot and to equip the teachers with everything they need. Don’t be shy to inspect the classrooms, the books and the other equipment that will be needed in ground school to get you ready for the written pilot’s license test you must pass to become a pilot.
But also ask about the airplanes the school has for your training flights and eventually the solo flights you must have to go before the FAA and seek a pilot’s license. The different kinds of airplanes you can train on, the greater your depth of knowledge will be. How old are the airplanes and how many of each kind do they have? You want to know that the airplanes are in good repair and that there are facilities so the school always has planes to take up for your training even if some are in the hangers for inspection or repair.
The same criteria should be asked of the flight instructors and specifically of the instructor who will be your primary mentor for this process. That person should have a good resume of accomplishment both flying for a living and working in the airline industry. You want a seasoned pro to be sitting next to you when you take the controls of an airplane for the first time. But you also want an instructor who has the heart of a teacher. He or she should love passing information to others and taking a roomful of “civilians” and turning them into accomplished pilots.
You have the right to ask a lot of questions. You should get details about costs which will include supplemental costs like books, training materials, fuel surcharges and flight time fees. By the time your evaluation is done, you should have a firm idea what the school has to offer and a solid base of knowledge to use to compare flight schools. From there you can make the right choice who will be teaching you to take to the air and fulfill your lifelong dream of becoming a pilot.